B.C. Government implements BCLI recommendations on child employment

20 October 2021

By British Columbia Law Institute

Young people working in British Columbia will benefit from recent changes in employment standards meant to bring the province in line with international standards for children’s work.

On 15 October 2021, the B.C. government implemented revisions to B.C. employment standards in line with recommendations contained in the BCLI’s 2018 Report on the Employment Standards Act. The amended legislation that took effect across the province last Friday will ensure that children and young workers are better protected, while also allowing regulators to determine which jobs and occupations are suitable for people under 16. Previously, B.C. had been the only province that permitted children as young as 12 to be employed in virtually any type of job with parental consent.

The amendments that came into force are consistent with the recommendations made in our 2018 report. Our report recommended reforms such as:

  • employment of persons under 16 in forms of work likely to endanger their health, safety, or moral development be prohibited;
  • a minimum age be set between 16 and 19 for employment in hazardous work;
  • employment below the age of 14 should require a permit from the Director of Employment Standards in addition to parental consent, except in recorded and live entertainment (for which there are existing special standards);
  • employment at 14 and 15 should be allowed only with parental consent in legally designated forms of “light work” (a term deriving from international standards), or otherwise by a special permit from the Director of Employment Standards;
  • the existing special standards for children working in the recorded and live entertainment sector (which includes the film, television, live theatre and music industries) should remain in effect.

The B.C. government website outlines the rules and process for hiring young people in accordance with the amended Employment Standards Act and the regulations designating the age-appropriate categories of work that are now authorized following consultations with parental, labour, and business groups.